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As Historic Nuclear Ban Enters into Force, It’s Time for the US to Help Put an End to the Nuclear Age

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/27/historic-nuclear-ban-enters-force-its-time-us-help-put-end-nuclear-age


Wow, I agree with something Ronald Reagan said (A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought) - I had forgotten that one. Too bad he couldn’t follow that thought to a logical conclusion that we shouldn’t be spending that money on nuclear weapons or be taking risks that we might unintentionally detonate one or be suffering all the environmental cost of making and disposing of them.

I don’t know if the author chose the headline, and I realize the term Nuclear Age is started with the WWII use of the atomic bomb - but this isn’t the phrasing I like as I think the political issue of nuclear power is very different from weapons. Nuclear power can exist with a much lower environmental footprint, new reactor designs can be passively safe (no cooling system failures leading to explosion) and they can actually make the current stockpile of weapons grade material and spent fuel from older reactors into a much safer collection of materials that should be isolated from the environment for hundreds of years instead of thousands or tens of thousands (and generate a lot of very low carbon emission power - just a bit from modest amounts of concrete during construction and the like). Ending the Nuclear Age sounds like a decision to cut off all plans for nuclear power which I disagree with while I’m in complete support of getting rid of all nuclear weapons starting immediately.

I am a climate activist who is emotionally and financially interested in the success of renewables. But we need to hit hard and fast. Nuclear compared to oil, gas and most of all coal is the cleanest, savest option we have. Demonizing it - like you do in this article - will postpone our switch to clean and low co2 energy sources. That costs time. As you’ve noticed yourself, that’s time we don’t have.

Solving the climate crisis fast enough is currently not possible without nuclear.

Thank you, Olivia! A tall order, for the most backward-thinking country on Earth, to lead us out of our nuclear nightmare… We know that around half of our compatriots are in dire straights, cognitively speaking. So easily, so willingly duped, by the most improbable entity in decades. Nukes form the core of our civic religion: Death Worship. Imagine, the threat of global annihilation is the best we can do! Maybe your generation will be the one to crack the Iron Triangle, now that the satanic deeds of the Congress, the Pentagon, and the nuke making corps and their investors are soon to be illegal under international law. Pariah state, USA. It doesn’t need to be this way…

First, thank you for your perspective. I know a lot of scientist, engineers, and climate activists who make the point that you’ve articulated. But, there are some who believe that it is possible to address climate change without nuclear power: _https://ieer.org/projects/carbon-free-nuclear-free/
The question of time seems to be one of economics, governance, and political power.

My work has been with solar and wind microgrids, so my bias is for these systems. Nonetheless, I am open to the potential for molten salt reactors.

My experience working on energy planning initiatives recently, has left me extremely pessimistic for the prospects of any meaningful change. All of the initiatives that I’ve been involved with have claimed to bring all the stakeholders to the table. These stakeholders are industry, government, and academia. I’ve pointed out that community members, particularly those in resource rich areas, are left out, but my concerns have been dismissed, either outright or by lack of follow up. Since the Black Lives Matter insurrections this year, I’ve found an increasingly racist reaction among many in industry and among many economists and STEM academics. Consequently, I’ve found it harder than ever to bring up concerns of oppression of indigenous people’s and environmental racist practices, particularly by the current nuclear industry which is led by large for-profit corporations with ample legal teams ready to quash any such concerns. In fact, several of the US companies that produce nuclear power such as Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, NRG, are also promoters of fossil fuels and, as their activities for more nuclear power are also linked to activities to grow fossil fuel infrastructure. These groups are notorious for their environmental racism.

I don’t see any meaningful and persistent efforts to reduce production of greenhouse gasses without a shift in paradigm of energy generation and production from a private for-profit industry to a system of small scale worker/community cooperatives or non-profit network of smaller scale locally directed generators and distributors.

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